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A custom 3D printed bionic hand controlled by back muscles

13 June 2016

Open Bionics has created a bionic hand, printed in a flexible material that is programmed to perform six different actions, controlled using the wearers back muscles.

Open Bionics in collaboration with The Alternative Limb Project for James Young sponsered by Konami. (The Phantom Limb photographed by Omkaar Kotedia.)

The Phantom Limb project was commissioned by Metal Gear Solid makers Konami, and brings together artists, makers, engineers and roboticists who set out to fuse medical technology with the world of video games.

The hand took just over 24 hours to print on a desktop Ultimaker 3D printer and has been given to James Young, an enthusiastic amputee gamer who helped design the arm. The bionic arm functions the same as a prosthesis, it has been designed to match James’ existing hand and programmed to perform diverse grip patterns.

3D printing gave the designers the flexibility and scope needed to design a prosthetic arm that was unique to James. 

Samantha Payne, Open Bionics’ co-founder said “the hand is a myoelectric prosthesis. This means EMG sensors read muscle activity beneath James’ skin. This activity, which James controls via muscle tension, signals to the hand which grip pattern to use. Essentially, James can tell the hand what to do by squeezing his shoulder muscles. Depending on how James is squeezing his shoulder muscles, he can tell the hand to perform five different programmed actions including opening and closing the fingers, pointing and using a tripod grip.” 

Video and information courtesy of Open Bionics.

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